There is no perfect model for IT services. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s the truth.
While managed services are infinitely better than hourly IT support, they still come with their own unique challenges. That’s why it’s important to understand what they are and to do what you can to overcome them as efficiently as possible.
1. Knowledge and Capability Gaps
Whereas many IT companies will promote their managed services as comprehensive, that may not always be the case. Especially when the client operates in a highly specialized industry, the IT company may not be familiar with their line of business apps.
It may come down to a single type of software or particular technical need, but it’s the difference between totally managed IT, and nearly managed IT.
2. Contract Surprises
There’s always a chance that you’ll find managed services, or that IT company, in particular, isn’t right for you. Or, the opposite could happen – you’ll be perfectly satisfied with the services and will want to renew them.
That’s why it’s smart to know how the renewal/termination process will work ahead of time:
3. Hidden Fees
As in any business relationship, a key downside to look out for is the possibility of hidden fees. Be sure to carefully look over the contract and SLA to make sure you’re aware of additional fees that may come with onsite support, support hours caps, etc.
4. Connectivity Needs
When you outsource your IT support, it means that much of it will be delivered to your business online – via your softphone, email, browser portals, and remote support solutions.
All of this is dependent on internet uptime, reliability, and connectivity which, along with available bandwidth & redundancy, will require special attention.
5. Cloud Migration
As powerful as the cloud is, the key challenge it brings to businesses is in migrating to it. Transitioning your systems, data, and staff to a new cloud environment can be complicated if it’s not handled properly. That’s why it’s important to check with your potential new IT company and make sure they have experience with cloud migrations.
6. Security vs. Control
This is an ongoing debate – and for good reason. The more of your security (and data) that you hand over to a third-party IT company, the less control you may feel you have over it.
For some businesses, this is too much to ask, and so they arrange to manage their security internally, wherein they can better oversee it. However, without the right security capabilities, continuing to manage security independently can be unsafe.
When they’re trying to get you to sign, an IT company may say anything and everything you want to hear. Furthermore, they will likely be very easy to get a hold of.
But what about after you’ve signed? How can you know for sure that they will answer the phone when you need them?
That’s why it’s smart to inquire about their response times, Help Desk models, and other support guarantees.
8. Inconsistent Performance
Don’t settle for general statements about performance – you should get actual stats and guarantees about what will be delivered, and how it will meet what you require.
The best way to do so is in the Service Level Agreement – this is the core of your managed services contract. Make sure that it covers 24 / 7 support, data security, and privacy guarantees, performance targets and a service cessation mechanism.
9. Compliance Support
If your organization is subject to compliance regulations (HIPAA, FINRA, SOX, etc.) then it’s vitally important to check whether an IT company can help you in that regard.
Do they have experience doing so? Can a similar company in the same industry as you provide a recommendation or case study?
With laws surrounding privacy, data breach notification and such continually evolving, any IT company should be able to help to achieve & maintain compliance.
What’s the main take away?
You need to do your homework before signing on the dotted line with an IT company. It’s critical to make sure they can do everything you need them to, that you know how much you’ll be paying, what’s included, and what the terms of the contract are.
That way, you can identify obstacles while you’re still in a position to negotiate or find a different IT company to work with.
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